August 5, 2008

Light Hearted Books for Book Groups

In July 2008 Steve at Libbie Cass Library in Springfield said, "My book group has declared in no uncertain terms that we've read too many depressing, heavy books of late and want something that is light hearted, if not laugh out loud funny, and upbeat and uplifting would be considered pluses as well. Any suggestions?"

Here are the suggestions he received (in no particular order):

1) Janet Evanovich (many suggested this)
2) Bill Bryson (on several people's lists)
3) Walking to Egypt (multiple suggestions)
4) Home to Harmony
5) No 1 Ladies Detective Agency (again multiple suggestions)
6) Wilbur Winkle Has a Complaint
7) A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way From Chicago (although they are YA
8) Travels With Charlie
9) The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (a couple mentioned this one)
10) David Sedaris
11) Kick Me
12) Rita May Brown
13) Dave Barry
14) A Girl Named Zippy (although I was warned against the sequel)
15) Tender at the Bone
16) Fried Greed Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
17) Last Days of Summer
18) Standing in the Rainbow
19) Funny in Farsi
20) True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
21) The Mammy
22) Stern Men
23) Farewell my Subaru
24) Sophie Kinsella (Can You Keep a Secret)
25) Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
26) The Garden club and the Kumquat Campaign
27) Rebecca Rule (several suggested her)
28) Carl Hiaasen (again several suggested this)
29) Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man
30) Big Stone Gap (several suggested)
31) Jeanne Ray (Julie and Romeo)
32) The Spellman Files
33) Pontoon
34) Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
35) Miss Julia series

A second installment of replies included:
1) I Feel bad About My Neck
2) Short Walk in the Hindu Kush (I loved Slowly Down the Ganges but the group didn’t like it, maybe you have to have traveled in India to find it
3) P.G. Wodehouse (my first thought when the group wanted light-hearted—-finally someone (actually a couple of folks) suggested it)
4) J. Weiner books (several recommended her)
5) I Capture the Castle
6) Peter Mayle
7) Secret Life of Lobsters
8) Bridget Jones (chick lit)
9) Tony Bourdain
10) Zorro by Allende

Quite a few books or authors on the lists were recommended multiple times by different libraries. I'm a little surprised that Lorna Landvik was never suggested but perhaps folks were looking more for the out and out funny. Which is probably why Maeve Binchy's name didn't show up.

Additionally, I (Mary Russell) would suggest Annie Friedman's Fabulous Travelling Funeral. It has some sad parts, but is a totally "feel-good" book and some of it is quite funny. The various choices the characters make about their lives would provide a lot of material for discussion.

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